Managing pressure in the workplace

Managing pressure and preventing stress in the workplace is important for all organisations and managers have a vital role in making this happen. Sometimes, trying to help people who are experiencing stress can seem daunting and complicated – many managers are just unsure where to start or how to help. It may be reassuring to know that, whilst there are no quick fixes or magic bullets, there are real and practical things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of stress within your team or to support someone who is already experiencing stress.

One of the most important things for effective stress management and prevention is to identify the causes of pressure contributing to the feelings of stress. Whilst there are lots of different pressures that we all face, they can all generally fall into one or more of six areas – we call these the ‘six essentials’. If the six essentials are managed effectively and aren’t out of balance, the risk of stress goes down, team performance tends to go up and individuals feel higher levels of engagement and morale.

Being aware of how the six essentials might be affecting your team, regularly discussing any concerns team members may have about them and working together to find practical solutions to address any concerns is the best way of proactively reducing the risk of stress in your workplace.

Sometimes, it might not always be possible or practical to completely eliminate the source of pressure, but you can often have a real impact by exploring whether a change in one of the other six essentials could help the situation.

Watch the following video for a brief overview of the six essential and take a closer look into each of them below.


The 'Six Essentials'...Control
The 'Six Essentials'...Job Security and Change
The 'Six Essentials'...Resources and Communication
The 'Six Essentials'...Work Demands
The 'Six Essentials'...Work Relationships
The 'Six Essentials'...Job Conditions

How can you assess the risk of stress?

The first step to reducing the risk of stress in the workplace is to identify the key pressure points for an employee, and understand why they feel pressured in that area using a stress risk assessment. A stress risk assessment can help form solutions to minimise the risk of stress, reduce the likelihood of employee absence, identify the need for occupational health or other forms of early intervention and potentially maximise their performance, moral and engagement at work. The stress risk assessment can also be used in the return to work process if an employee is returning from absence to support their recovery and avoid work related stress in the future.

A stress risk assessment is a tool specifically developed to provide line managers with a step by step guide to evaluate the following:

  • which of the six essentials of workplace stress are causing a pressure point
  • why the person feels that is a pressure
  • what can be done to alleviate pressure in that area and documenting what solutions are agreed. It’s important to note this is a negotiation between employee and line manager, and in some cases it may not be possible meet the absolute requests of the employee, but a compromise about any workplace adjustments should be reached. This process can also involve representatives from trade union or human resources
  • who will be responsible for ensuring the plan is put in place
  • how often the plan will be evaluated and who with

It’s important that any discussion is documented and regularly reviewed at agreed times so continual monitoring can identify any early issues and need for further support.

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